Friday, March 22, 2013

Advocating or Promoting

For years, I’ve talked to new and veteran librarians about advocating for their library programs. This week I had an epiphany about advocating. It all began with my looking at the online shopping channel QVC.
Here’s the scenario. A host starts talking about a product and proclaims it is the best available at a great price; she/he brings on a product representative who demonstrates the product and proclaims it is the best one available at a great price. You are just a quick phone call away from eternal bliss, right? You get the picture.
Is the host advocating for or promoting the purchase of the product? I know it may just be a case of semantics, but in my mind, there is a difference. According to the dictionary, a promoter advertises, endorses, encourages, sponsors, stimulates, and advances; an advocate supports, backs, believes in, and campaigns for. So, I think a QVC host is a promoter. In this instance, who is the advocate? It the customer who writes product reviews (assuming they are good reviews).  
The reason I make this fine distinction is because I feel the opinion of an advocate is much more believable and powerful than the opinion of a promoter. Do you believe what Best Buy says about a latest flat screen TV or do you believe Consumer Reports?  Do you believe the car salesman or a customer who has driven the model for 6 months?
How does this idea relate to school libraries?

The librarian should promote the library program by finding many ways to advertise library activities. Who is the advocate? I believe an advocate is a library patron who supports and campaigns for libraries. If your district is thinking of cutting library budgets, who is the better advocate? Librarian or teachers? The librarian must actively show and promote what they do, and then encourage the patrons (students and teachers) to speak out in favor of the library and its librarian.

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